517 Magazine - November 2023

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517 B U S I N E S S



Toni Thomas brings balance to others at Salt Yoga


THE 2023


Including Andrew and Monica Gauthier, winners of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award

PLUS! 10 Over the Next Ten winners Veteran Business Owners Celebrated in November November 2023

Notable News and more

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publisher’s note


Innovators Dedicated to Improvement

t some point, everyone deals with the grind in their work — those moments where we mentally disconnect and let rote memorization temporarily take over. Sometimes it can be a necessity to let our creative reserve replenish itself, but it also can be a dangerous slippery slope if we let ourselves drift too far along untethered from meaning and a sense of worth and value in what we do. When I begin to feel the wheel of the grind starting to catch and pull me under, I always take a beat to find a bit of inspiration by looking around at what others are doing to buck the grind and go against the grain. More often than not, I find the inspiration that snaps me back to reality among the upstarts and nonconformist positivity found in the region’s entrepreneurial arena. It takes a fair amount of idealism and romanticism to take a dream and put it into action through sheer chutzpah, cheek, hope and confidence. You’re betting not just on yourself but on your vision of how you think the world should be. How can anyone not find inspiration in such unabashed audaciousness? That’s why it’s always a privilege to give these individuals and businesses the recognition that is so well deserved through the Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. The 29th annual awards ceremony was held Oct. 5 at Eagle Eye Golf and Banquet Center in Bath Township. Nine awards were handed out by the panel of judges at the 2023 event — Entrepreneur of the Year; Business of the Year; the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award; Socially Responsible Entrepreneur; Nonprofit of the Year; the 517 Magazine Publisher’s Award; and three new awards, Emerging Entrepreneur, the Passion to Prosperity Award and Entrepreneurial Icon — and details of the winners are highlighted in the following pages of this issue of 517 Magazine. The entrepreneurs who walk among us are the embodiment of dreams realized; however, more than that, they uplift entire communities through job creation, driving social change and improving quality of life. If that’s not inspiring and deserving of recognition, I don’t know what is. Congratulations to all of this year’s Entrepreneurial Award winners. You help us all aspire to greater personal heights.

Tiffany Dowling Publisher

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517 Business and Life, Volume 5, Issue 9, November 2023.

Publisher Tiffany Dowling tiffany@m3group.biz

517 Business and Life (USPS#020-807) is published monthly by M3 Group at 221 W. Saginaw St., Lansing, MI 48933. Periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Michigan.

Managing Editor Mary Gajda mary@m3group.biz

Subscriptions: Subscriptions are available at $22 per year for postage and handling or $38 for two years. Call 517-203-3333 or visit 517mag.com to subscribe. Postmaster: Send address changes to 517 Business and Life, 221 W. Saginaw St., Lansing, MI 48933. Copyright @2023. 517 Business and Life. All rights reserved. Editorial office: 221 W. Saginaw St., Lansing, MI 48933. 517mag.com

we want to hear from you! Letters must be signed and include the writer’s name and address. Please send to: 517 Magazine, 221 W. Saginaw St., Lansing, MI 48933, or email info@517mag.com. Paid advertorials appear in 517 Business and Life, including print and other digital formats, and are marked with the words Special Advertisement. 517 Business and Life does not endorse or evaluate the claims made by the special advertisements and views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or owner. Advertising does not influence editorial decisions or content.

Chief Strategy Officer Shelley Davis Boyd Senior Creative Visionary Kathryn Aspin kathryn@m3group.biz Lead Editor Christopher Nagy Editor Stacy Bogard Contributors Rich Adams Susan Combs Mary Gajda Christine MacIntyre Metro Melik Christopher Nagy Stephanie Murray Omar Sofradzija Graphic Designers Audrey Spring Kameron Chauvez Account Executives Megan Fleming megan@m3group.biz Photographers Mary Gajda Metro Melik M3 Group 221 W. Saginaw St. Lansing, MI 48933 P 517-203-3333 Subscription subscribe@517mag.com





Get into the holiday spirit with the return of the Kringle Holiday Market in Downtown Lansing, beginning on Friday, Nov. 17 during Silver Bells in the City. Shop for locally-sourced goods and unique handmade crafts while experiencing the holiday magic with activities for the whole family at Reutter Park. Plus, with Downtown Digital Dollars, supporting your community and finding the perfect gift has never been easier.

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Nov. 2023

17 The 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Award Winners Learn more about this year’s awardees

45 A Healing Practice Toni Thomas brings balance to others at Salt Yoga

Lifestyle feature: Toni Thomas 517 5


business SNAPSHOT 8 AREA A Snapshot of Local Business News Affecting the 517

NEWS 10 NOTABLE Professional Highlights from the 517 Region

12 A Brief Look at State and National STATE/NATIONAL

News Affecting our Region

lifestyle 40 PLACES Stories Untold

Vietnam memorial reminds of the cost of sacrifice

AND DIY 42 DESIGN A Thrifter’s Thanksgiving

Making a ‘something found’ holiday spread

READS 48 GOOD ‘Aging Optimally’ Part 3

TIPS 15 BIZ Getting Ready for 2024

51 RECIPE Cornbread Casserole

THE RECORD 36 ON Still Climbing Higher

54 PLAY Visit 517living.com for More

Four facets of leadership fitness

On the Record with Pete Kramer of Kramer Management Group

Don’t forget the Thanksgiving classic

Lansing-Area Activities







CELEBRATING SUCCESSES AWARDS CAN BOOST A BUSINESS’S BOTTOM LINE Entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of our region, and they should be celebrated. Now in its 29th year, the Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards is a prestigious showcase of doers and dreamers who are not only proud of their own accomplishments but have the support of community and clientele. Each honoree was nominated by a member of the community and went through an arduous, juried process. Honoring small businesses helps them achieve goals and distinction. It helps with credibility, client attraction and company morale. Even the act of applying for business awards is healthy for a company because it forces employers to look at the big picture. How has the company grown? Is the company innovative? What makes the business stand out? What’s more, awards go a long way in public perception, which can lend itself to a business’s reality.

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business / AREA SNAPSHOT

A snapshot of local business news affecting the 517


When Dan Shinaver left the U.S. Marine Corps in 1999 after four years, he didn’t want his service to his country to end. The Potterville resident worked in the nonprofit world for 12 years helping homeless veterans find employment and housing. Then he started his own company, DS Employment Services, assisting the unemployed in finding work. Marc Hile of Owosso served in the U.S. Army in a delayed entry program, where he attended basic training between his junior and senior years in high school. When he was honorably discharged from service, he started Hile Family Construction, where he focuses on home improvement. They are just two of hundreds of veterans from Adrian to Ypsilanti who started their own businesses after their military service came to an end. November is a month to celebrate those who served America in uniform. In addition to Veterans Day on Nov. 11, the first five days in November have been designated Veterans Small Business Week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Shinaver not only has his own small-business enterprise, but he also has a contract with the state. “Currently, I don’t specialize in finding employment for veterans through my company, as I work with anyone who needs it,” he said.



“However, I do hold multiple roles with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, where I provide mentorship and community outreach services as a contractor.” When Hile was 17, he enlisted in the Army. He was emulating his idol, who also served in the military. “I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps,” Hile said. “He was my hero.” Hile explained how his service in the Army, during which he was based in Bay City, influenced his decision to become an entrepreneur. “The military gave me the drive to not give up, and work as hard as possible to achieve my dreams and not let anyone stop me from doing so,” he said. Shinaver, who served at Camp Pendleton in California before he suffered a career-ending injury and the rest of his unit deployed to Okinawa, Japan, said running his own company taught him how to pivot. “The United States Marine Corps taught me inner strength, fortitude and discipline,” Shinaver said. “In my civilian enterprise this has taught me to adapt and overcome many tough obstacles. It has taught me to find unique and creative ways to solve many problems. And it has taught me to stand up for myself, persevere in the face of adversity and to never give up — even when the going gets tough.”


The 10 Over the Next Ten Awards, co-hosted by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Lansing 5:01, honors young professionals who are expected to contribute significantly to the community over the next decade. The 17th year of the annual event produced these outstanding recipients. Amanda Hadley A financial adviser for Full Circle Financial Planning in Lansing, Hadley works primarily with women entrepreneurs, divorcees, working and single moms, and widows. She is involved in a variety of activities in Old Town, Impression 5 Science Center and To Work in Grateful Service. Hadley also organized and hosted the Touch A Truck Family Fun Fest event in June.

Mikeyy Austin Austin is founder and director of OurSpace (517), which produces the Juneteenth celebration in REO Town. OurSpace (517) also supports other organizations by providing event planning, marketing and advertising, video production, fundraising support, and consultation.

Ryan Hundt As CEO of the Michigan Works! Association, Hundt leads workforce development boards and agencies that serve thousands of job seekers and employers annually. He is active on the Michigan Economic Developers Association; Michigan Adult, Community and Alternative Education Association; Michigan Apprenticeship Advisory board; and others.

w w w . o u r s p a c e 5 1 7 . c o m

Paul Anderson At Moneyball Sportswear, Anderson works in e-commerce, enhancing customer engagement M I K E Y Y A U S T I N / / 1 0 U N D Eand R 1 0relations. As a Fatherhood Coalition adviser, he organizes events and engages communities. As city of Lansing leisure services advisory board president, he strategically advises on parks and recreation initiatives, optimizes community resources, and raises funds for community centers.

Lisa Barna Barna is owner of Black Dog Coffee in Eaton Rapids. She and her husband have hosted seven foreign exchange students in their home and have fostered 16 children. She supports the Eaton Rapids Farmers Market and is a member of the Eaton Rapids Rotary and Eaton Rapids Chamber

R of Commerce.


Kirsten Feldpausch As special gifts manager for the Greater Lansing Food Bank, Feldpausch works to secure partners and funding for new programming to better ensure the equitable access of food bank services. Feldpausch is a member of the 2022-2023 Leadership Lansing cohort, the local Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter and is a certified tourism ambassador.

3003 E Michigan Ave #1039, Lansing, MI, 48912 info@ourspace517.com

Andrew Gauthier The founder and co-owner of Groovy Donuts in Williamston and East Lansing is deeply connected to the community through acts including delivering free doughnuts to teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week and providing weekly donations to Child and Family Charities, Saturday Morning Breakfast Outreach, Punks with Lunch, and others.

Myles Johnson In his first year on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners serving District 5, Johnson has implemented targeted infrastructure improvement initiatives — including securing funding and resources for road maintenance, public transportation and utility services — to address pressing infrastructure gaps in his district. Samantha Le An adviser at Martin Commercial Properties, Le returned home from Chicago in 2020 to be more involved in her community and work to foster economic development in Lansing. She is active in the community by serving as a board member of the Capital City Film Festival and as a table captain for the Ele’s Place Healing Hearts Breakfast. Jaqueline Rhine The sales/leasing agent for Feldman Chevrolet has thrived working in male-dominated industries her entire career. Rhine is a four-time certified top performer as a General Motors Mark of Excellence winner. In 2022, she generated more than $600,000 in sales and was in the top-eight ranking for salespersons in the entire Feldman dealership for the year.

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business / NOTABLE NEWS

PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE 517 REGION Maner Costerisan Named Among Best Places to Work Lansing-based Maner Costerisan has been recognized as one of southeast Michigan’s best places to work by Best Companies Group. “Being recognized as one of the best places to work demonstrates our ongoing commitment to establishing a positive work environment that celebrates our team members and values their contributions,” said Trey Williams, president of the certified public accounting firm.

Maner Costerisan ranked No. 23 on the list based on a two-part survey process. Peckham Named Gold-Level Leader in Employing Veterans Peckham Inc. has been certified as a gold-level veteran-friendly employer and designated as an official Michigan Veteran Connector company by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The agency recognizes organizations based on their commitment to recruiting, hiring, training and retaining veteran talent.

“To be certified as a gold-level veteranfriendly employer and a Michigan Veteran Connector truly highlights Peckham’s commitment to serving past and present service members,” said MVAA Employment Analyst Joe Saur. “We are lucky to have Peckham among the ranks of our … program. The work they do to support veterans in every step of the employment process speaks volumes, and I look forward to our continued partnership with Peckham and other employers to make Michigan the top state for veterans to find great job opportunities.”

Our business is caring for yours.

ews our n COM y t i bm AG.


LCC Medical Assistant Faculty Receives ACCT Award The Association of Community College Trustees has named Lansing Community College’s Diane Roose as the recipient of the 2023 Central Region William H. Meardy Faculty Member Award. With just two years of service at LCC, Roose is already garnering national attention as the medical assistant program’s lead faculty member. Her regional-level award marked her as a finalist for the national honor, which was presented in October in Las Vegas. “Excellence in teaching, to me, means that students get a sense of commitment to their career and that they have integrity,” Roose said. “It’s my job to show them the way and help instill a commitment to education where learning never ends.”

MSUFCU Unveils Art at East Lansing Branch Reflecting the culturally active and unique qualities of the local community, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union unveiled an exterior art installation at its new branch, 311 Abbot Road in East Lansing. The artwork designed by Shinique Smith features stylized swoop MSU letters and was presented in conjunction with the city of East Lansing’s public arts program. It was unveiled in a ceremony Sept. 29 that included representatives from Michigan State University, the city of East Lansing, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, and the MSU Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.




Launch Michigan Announces Keesler as New President, CEO Launch Michigan, a bipartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to reimagining Michigan’s public education system through policy and advocacy, announced the hiring of Venessa Keesler as its president and CEO. Prior to leading Launch Michigan, Keesler was a senior project director and subject matter expert for AEM Corp. “Launch Michigan is focused on creating positive changes that will benefit Michigan’s students, teachers, economy and workforce,” said Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan and Launch Michigan board chair. “Venessa’s leadership will undoubtedly enhance our collective efforts to provide a world-class education for every student in Michigan.”

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As the business landscape evolves at an unprecedented pace, 2024 will see transformative trends that will reshape industries, redefine strategies and present new opportunities. Dynamic shifts will reinvent the future, from integrating artificial intelligence-driven solutions to the resurgence of local entrepreneurship. Many businesses will embrace trends that gained momentum during the pandemic, such as remote work. According to new data from SelectSoftware Reviews, remote work has become a cornerstone of modern work culture.



It “offers the flexibility and autonomy of remote work while maintaining a level of in-person collaboration,” said a SelectSoftware spokesperson. This trend and other flexible work arrangements like hybrid options empower organizations to “tap into a broader talent pool and reduce overhead costs.” Given the prevalence of remote work, companies will rethink how to seamlessly integrate it into their business models. Kraig Kleeman, founder and CEO of The New Workforce and Kraig Kleeman Live, emphasized the persistent strength of “digital everything,” with technology continuing to drive efficiency and keep businesses at the forefront of their industries. Michael Mack, owner of Mack Pawn Shops, echoed that sentiment, affirming that all things digital, including e-commerce and AI, will continue transforming the business landscape. Kleeman also introduced the rise of an “ecofriendly and socially cool” trend. “Think green practices, social impact and good governance,” he said, emphasizing that these endeavors aren’t merely for garnering brownie points but reflect customers’ desires. “Sustainability is the new black,” Mack added, underscoring the importance of ethical and inclusive marketing in the business world. Kleeman noted that while businesses will still go global, they’ll pay more attention to local nuances and rules when expanding into new markets. However, not all trends elicit excitement within the business world. Madeline Williamson, senior public relations coordinator at 10 to 1 Public Relations, cautioned about the risks associated with deepfake fraud and the potential for reputation damage. Deepfakes, which involve computergenerated images or videos portraying false events, statements or actions, pose a significant threat to business. Williamson said that deepfakes should be noticed as potential hazards amid discussions about AI’s impact on business. “As we are approaching 2024,” Mack said, “the landscape is enriched with exciting opportunities and challenges that demand our attention. To thrive in this evolving landscape, companies must remain agile and stay attuned to emerging trends, ensuring they make smart business moves in the coming year.”


Housing trends mirror the changes in societal preferences and economic dynamics that range from the increasing popularity of renting to the emergence of hybridized housing models that blend work and home life and the growing appeal of co-living with family members for financial efficiency. These trends not only reflect shifting perceptions of living spaces but also highlight the innovative ways people adapt to the ever-changing housing market. The 2020 census provides a comprehensive view of the transforming housing landscape in the United States. Notably, the data reveals a departure from traditional homeownership. The rate of owner-occupied housing units dipped to 63.1%, marking its lowest point since 1970. In contrast, a 14.8% increase in renter-occupied units since 2010 indicates a growing preference for renting. David Allen, market analysis and research manager at the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, said that “seniors over age 65 generally have a high homeownership rate.” However, there is a trend toward renting among “very old households, as they often require more assistance and seek rental housing solutions that offer support.” For older individuals, renting can free up capital, increase liquidity and provide flexibility for retirement. Some opt for a simpler, more manageable lifestyle and downsize to lower-cost housing solutions. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has solidified preferences for renting versus buying across various age groups. “Folks who are looking to buy can’t find product to purchase due to increasing prices and supply issues,” said Allen. “Also,

of course, with increased mortgage rates, there’s just not a lot of influence to get people moving.” Where society was previously more mobile, he said, people aren’t moving as much as they used to in terms of housing. According to the 2020 census, shared, nonfamily households increased more than family households. Additionally, the census concluded that “cohabitation has become more common, especially among young adults,” with 7.2% of family households embracing multigenerational living arrangements, often involving children living with their grandparents. Jeff Mains, CEO of the growth accelerator Champion Leadership Group, said that sharing housing with family or friends allows people “to pool resources, manage bills and maintain social support.” Allen said that hybridized, or mixed-use, housing has also gained ground, primarily in urban, downtown areas saturated with businesses, where additional housing options are needed. In cities with high housing costs, renting remains a popular choice due to the prohibitive cost of homeownership. Cities with thriving technology sectors and strong tourism industries often have higher proportions of renters. The tech workforce, typically younger and more mobile, aligns well with renting, while the transient nature of tourism-related jobs creates a substantial rental market. A deeper exploration of today’s housing trends reveals that the choices to rent, buy or cohabitate are not merely reflections of personal preferences but responses to the evolving economic and social landscape.

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business / BIZ TIPS


As we wind down 2023, we start to think about goals for the new year. My colleague, David Chinsky, developed a leadership model call the Fit Leader’s Program, which can serve as a framework as we think about goals for 2024. The Fit Leader’s Program has four faces of leadership fitness. Clarity: Are we providing clear direction to our team members? Do they understand our organization’s mission, vision and values? Or are we conveying confusing messages that keep our teams stuck? Maybe in 2024 we want to add a “huddle” meeting every week to improve our communication, increase our clarity and celebrate our wins. Confidence: What goals could we set for 2024 to increase our confidence? Does your organization offer a mentor program? Having that trusted confidante in a mentor helps mentees gain confidence. Mentor programs also help to develop mentors as they gain confidence in helping a colleague. Could you take a class to brush up on skills to help increase your confidence? Effectiveness: Are team members equipped with ideas and tools to be an

effective leader, or are they frustrated and ineffective? What resources are available to help managers be more effective? Think about what can help managers prioritize those actions that will most contribute to the organization’s success. Vitality: This fourth face of leadership is truly unique in leadership development programs. What are we doing to maintain vitality for ourselves and our organizations? Are people encouraged to take all their vacation days? Start planning your breaks for 2024. We need those times to refresh and recharge so that we can make a sustained contribution to our families, to our friends and to our organizations. How are you doing with getting enough sleep? Maybe in 2024 you want to lessen screen time and get an additional hour of sleep instead. Along with my colleagues Ross Woodstock, Tanisha Black and Re’Shane Lonzo, the Fit Leader’s Program has been taught to hundreds of Michigan government employees as well as many private sector organizations. The concepts and ideas in the program apply to scrappy entrepreneurs and to large organizations. I hope you find the four faces of leadership fitness are helpful in thinking about and planning your goals for 2024.

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It’s staggering to think how many ideas and dreams have been hatched over a coffee and a doughnut. Perhaps former Wall Street investment banker Andrew Gauthier was conjuring the words of wisdom from Jedi master Yoda when he was enjoying his morning ritual at a local shop: “Do or doughnut. There is no try.” His idea gave rise to a business plan within weeks — and by mid-March 2015, the concept for Groovy Donuts LLC had come full circle. Securing funding through the Entrepreneur Institute of Mid-Michigan and a location in Williamston, Groovy Donuts was poised for a September opening. The icing on the plan? Wife Monica Gauthier, formerly the head of an animal disease laboratory at Michigan State University, was also on board as general manager. A second location in East Lansing came a year later in September 2016, and in the years that followed, the business racked up more than a baker’s dozen of accolades: Rising Micro Entrepreneur, Best Donuts in Michigan, Best Doughnut in the Lansing Area and more. The list just got a bit longer. The story is proof that if you don’t, or doughnut, worry and don’t give up on your dreams, you too can be named Entrepreneur of the Year in the Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards — a distinction Groovy Donuts earned in the 2023 celebration Oct. 5 at Eagle Eye Golf and Banquet Center. “Having received this award validates our efforts. Being nominated was validation for us. … This award is life-changing for us and our team,” Monica said. “I’m grateful for all the team members who have helped us get here, for the customers who have been so kind and thoughtful and continued to give us support even when times were hard for them.” The award for Entrepreneur of the Year is intended to set the bar for the region’s aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs. It is the hope that the winner attains the level of financial success and prominence that past recipients have achieved. Despite economic setbacks such as the pandemic, Groovy Donuts had marked three straight years of profitability and was named the best small business by the Small Business Development Center Capital Region.



Andrew and Monica Gauthier

The business has focused its marketing efforts on community interaction, with doughnut-decorating events held at schools and libraries, participation in events and festivals, and collaborations with other local businesses. The success and dedication Groovy Donuts has found in its customer base also extends to its workforce. Only six of the 14 employees have been with the business for less than two years. Andrew chalked that up to genuinely caring about the career and personal success of each worker. The goal, he said, is to have both employees and customers walk out the door with a bigger smile than when they came in — something exemplified by the company’s core values of spreading joy, building community and feeling groovy. That groove is headed straight into the coming years with the future plans for the business. “We are excited to start looking at possibilities for expansion for the first time in a few years,” Andrew said. “A third location is certainly an option we’re giving strong consideration to. … It is so exciting to consider what the future holds, both for Groovy Donuts and for the Greater Lansing area. There are truly some incredible and talented entrepreneurs out there who are reshaping the area, and it’s very exciting to play our small part in that.”

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When one underpinning of a community falters, the rest feel the additional brunt of the weight. For the past several years, Saddleback BBQ co-owners Matthew Gillett and Travis Stoliker have taken that to heart with countless efforts of outreach and support to help ensure all corners of the Greater Lansing community are riding high. From donating student lunches when schools shuttered during the pandemic or paying off school lunch debt in nine districts to providing holiday meals Matthew Gillett and Travis Stoliker, co-owners to families or helping local competitors and other businesses during economic struggles, Saddleback’s mission has been to help the region dust itself off and The meteoritic rise hasn’t come without acclaim. Mental get back in the saddle. Floss christened Saddleback as the best barbecue in Michigan For those reasons, along with the success of the business, wage and the Food Network took note of the restaurant’s rib sandwich. transparency to staff and more, Saddleback BBQ was selected as the Yet it has been the commitment to community caring that has Greater Lansing Business of the Year in the 2023 Greater Lansing awarded Saddleback the most recognition. Whether it was starting Entrepreneurial Awards. a GoFundMe site for local businesses that were victims of a series “Earning the Business of the Year title is a profound honor for of break-ins or buying $6,700 in livestock from kids after the me and our dedicated team,” Stoliker said. “It aligns us with an elite Ingham County Fair was canceled in 2020, Saddleback has put local cadre of past recipients who have set industry-leading standards. residents first — and that includes its own employees. This award not only validates the relentless efforts of our founder, Not only does Saddleback’s tip-splitting policy mean Matt Gillett, but it also celebrates the commitment of our team and employees receive an average minimum wage of $15.50, but the the unwavering support from our friends, families and customers.” business also offers a 4% 401(k) match to workers. The result is The award is presented each year to a business that has grown that the average employee tenure of 630 days is nearly six times beyond recognition from its startup days. From its impact on the the national industry average. community to financial prosperity, the Business of the Year has It’s hard to see the light dimming for Saddleback anytime soon. overcome it all to achieve extraordinary success. Gillett and Stoliker are already looking toward the future. And in Saddleback’s case, the owners have helped others “Saddleback is laser-focused on sustained growth and overcome it all too. deepening our community impact,” Stoliker said. “We aspire to be Saddleback opened its first location in REO Town in 2015 more than just a business; we aim to be a community pillar offering and has since expanded to a second site in Okemos as well as two rich career advancement opportunities for our employees. Our ethos standalone pizza spots, Slice by Saddleback. The business also is rooted in the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats; therefore, operates concession services during Michigan State University home empowering fellow entrepreneurs in the community is a mission games at Spartan Stadium and the Breslin Center, as well as has a we’re committed to.” retail product line in select Meijer stores.











Like all inspiring business success stories, it started with humble beginnings. TechSmith — which creates screen-capture software and solutions to create and share images and videos for better training, tutorials, lessons and everyday communication — was a nineemployee enterprise when it began in the 1980s. Today, the company boasts an army of hundreds and moved into a newly built headquarters on the campus of Michigan State University just over a year ago. The 60,000-square-foot building serves as the central hub for TechSmith and captures the spirit and long-term vision for the company under CEO Wendy Hamilton, daughter of the company founder. TechSmith was tapped for this year’s 517 Magazine Publisher’s Award in the 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. “This award is an acknowledgement of our roots and a testament to how far we’ve come since our founding in 1987, growing from a small, dedicated team of less than 10 to a vast team of over 300 that balance both the support of our community and our organization’s customers,” said Hamilton. The Publisher’s Award is not juried, but it is given the same consideration and deliberation the judges afford the other awards. The honor is awarded to a business that has made a big impact, a



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Pictured from left: Tony Lambert, chief technical officer; Sherri Powers, vice president of marketing; Amy Casciotti, vice president of human resources; Michelle Massey, vice president of community and customer operations; and Emmie Musser, future of work strategist

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business that more people should get to know the story behind. TechSmith’s flagship product, Snagit, was a revolutionary tool when it came out, transforming the way people could secure and edit screenshots. Snagit — along with the company’s Camtasia, Audiate and numerous other software video, audio and capture tools — continue to lead the industry today. The products are easy for anyone to learn and use, and billions of images and videos have been created with the products by more than 73 million people across over 190 countries and territories. Beyond being a successful company, TechSmith has proven to be a successful employer as well, believing that workers who are taken care of, in turn, will take care of customers. It is one of the few software companies that is employeeowned through a stock ownership program. Since the program’s implementation in 2021, employees have taken ownership of 30% of the business. TechSmith has high worker connection and is ranked near the top 10% of software companies on employee engagement, according to results from Culture Amp. It’s not just the present that TechSmith is interested in. As a technology-based company, it invests employee time and corporate funding supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics students through scholarships, speaking engagements and student projects. Other community entities supported by TechSmith include Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Lansing Food Bank, the American Red Cross, Peckham and Impression 5 Science Center. “In the fast-evolving space of video communications technology, even we might not yet know what the future holds for TechSmith,” Hamilton said. “That’s what keeps us enthusiastically driving forward. What we do know is that our continuous focus on innovation and delivering capture and video creation solutions that move work forward to share knowledge and ideas will remain an ever-present focus for us.”


AF Group Congratulates the 2023 Entrepreneurial Awards Winners


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It’s perhaps the greatest personal responsibility one can undertake; however, it also can be an isolating experience if you don’t know where to turn for help. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, but since 2019 a Williamston-based organization has been building safe and local communities of support and education for dads. Fathering Together is a nonprofit that offers free educational programs and consulting services to fathers around the world who are seeking to be more engaged and connected with their children and families. The organization was selected as the Nonprofit of the Year in the 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. “This award affirms the work that our organization has been doing for so many years and really energizes our whole team to continue the work that we are doing to support fathers around the world,” said Christopher Lewis, co-founder and chief information officer at Fathering Together. “At the same time, this award lights a fire under our whole organization as we look at the goals that we have for our organization and the vision that we are working to realize.” The Nonprofit of the Year is given to a nonprofit organization that serves the region in a large capacity and has produced outstanding accomplishments in fundraising, awareness and education efforts to the public. Lewis has long had a mission of supporting other people and communities, whether serving on the Williamston Rotary Club, sitting on the organization committee for Downtown Lansing Inc. or being elected to the Williamston Community Schools Board of Education. As a father of two girls, Lewis began writing the dadofdivas.com blog in 2007. A 2018 conference about building communities spurred him to create the Dads with Daughters Facebook group as a place where fathers could learn from other fathers. While that group was growing to 130,000 members worldwide, Lewis co-founded Fathering Together with Brian Anderson to create a community for dads that offered a replicable educational model that allowed them to have a common starting point when it came to parenting. Fathering Together’s definition of fatherhood is based in inclusiveness, recognizing cisgendered, nonbinary and members



Christopher Lewis, co-founder and chief information officer

of the LGBTQ+ community as fathers. It further recognizes that extended family members, from grandparents and uncles to cousins and siblings, may identify as fathers. All are invited to participate. Over the years, Fathering Together has worked in collaboration with numerous corporate sponsors and brings in donors from around the world to create, support and expand its programs that are designed to construct a better and more nurturing world for kids. As for the future of the nonprofit, Lewis plans to continue forward on the path of raising the voices of fathers around the world. “Our organization now is in a place where we are looking to provide more in-person opportunities to connect fathers together, both in local communities as well as providing spaces in schools and other places to build community for fathers beyond what we have created virtually already,” Lewis said.

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Rod Densteadt, Adam Kwiecien, Amy Densteadt, Todd Kwiecien, Joanie Kilchermann, Denise Weber and Dave Spohn




Perhaps the most endearing and memorable aspect of Doc Brown was his trademark exclamation of “Great Scott!” throughout the “Back to the Future” trilogy. However, in Greater Lansing, we can one-up the loveable yet scatterbrained doctor: We have a Royal Scot up our sleeve. For decades, Royal Scot Golf & Bowl, 4722 W. Grand River Ave. in Lansing, has been a staple for local residents looking to satisfy their entertainment and recreation needs in the area. Robert Kwiecien purchased the sprawling facility in 1984, with his children taking the reins over the operations in 2010. However, Royal Scot was at a crossroads when the coronavirus pandemic devasted the business community across mid-Michigan. Financial difficulties threatened to shutter the space for good. There was only one thing the leadership team could do to pull Royal Scot up from its fall — something all successful entrepreneurs are faced with at one point or another: Get creative. Royal Scot has undergone a cultural shift in recent years, serving as not just a recreation location but also something almost closer to a community center — hosting outdoor concerts by local bands; car shows; Halloween events for kids; and backpack, food and toy drives for the Delta Township Kiwanis Club.

The rebound and recovery have reestablished Royal Scot among the greats of Greater Lansing, which is why the business received the Entrepreneurial Icon Award in the 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. As defined by the panel of awards judges, “a business icon requires more than just financial success, it demands the creation of a lasting legacy. This means the business is not only thriving, but its innovation, commitment and ability to navigate change has allowed it to remain relevant in a constantly evolving business world. Having been in business more than 10 years, the icon should have name recognition and not only be known for its achievements but for its enduring influence and impact on its field and our community, helping to shape the narrative of entrepreneurship for generations to come.” If that definition set up the pins for this new award category, Royal Scot Golf & Bowl rolled a perfect game. “Receiving this award means the world to us at Royal Scot,” said Joanie Kilchermann, director of business development at the establishment. “We have lived and breathed Royal Scot the past three years, making it the best we can possibly make it to provide our community with the perfect place to play. To have our community notice our hard work and dedication to this city is very humbling.” In addition to revamping its brand through an updated website, social media presence, marketing plan and community outreach strategy, leadership at Royal Scot dedicated themselves to making more tangible updates. Since 2018, the facility has seen a new parking lot, new digital signage, new roof, new golf course irrigation system, new flooring, new Brunswick bowling scoring system, new fire suppression system, new HVAC system and remodeled golf pro shop. The wealth of positive changes that have occurred are ensuring that those who grew up golfing or bowling at Royal Scot will have a familiar and friendly place to take the next generation of recreation enthusiasts. “The future of Royal Scot is limitless,” said Kilchermann. “We will continue to be better year after year.”

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If Adrian Joseph’s life was a movie, perhaps one even directed by Martin Scorsese, the first line might very well be: “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a baker.” On second thought, Scorsese might be too intense of a choice. For the founder and CEO of Goodfellas Bagel Deli, a better selection might be an esteemed comedy director — Mel Brooks, Greta Gerwig, Judd Apatow. After all, Joseph relied on his comedic chops to quickly establish a positive reputation for his business. Initially opening in Lansing in 2019, Goodfellas Bagel Deli used short video skits to gain a social media following by an audience that embraced the business’s owner and team having fun at work. The gambit paid off. Goodfellas has a contract with Meijer at the Capital City Market and a second location in East Lansing — not to mention a team of professional Adrian Joseph, founder and CEO basketball players representing Team Goodfellas at the Moneyball Pro-Am, wearing jerseys with the signature Goodfellas logo on the front. With a goal of making the best bagel sandwiches in the It just shows that the combination of good food and good fun is a Midwest, plenty of people are already watching the rise of recipe for success. Goodfellas. The business is dedicated to delivering signature flavors, No wonder Joseph and Goodfellas earned the Emerging fresh ingredients, and an unbeatable theme and atmosphere with its Entrepreneur Award in the 2023 Greater Lansing mob-centric brand and East Coast vibe. Entrepreneurial Awards. Plus, when it comes to giving back to the local community, the “This award represents a sense of fulfillment to me, and it is a team at Goodfellas is never going to “fuhgeddaboudit.” reminder of how far we’ve come and how much the community has From the Spartan Strong Free Pancake Breakfast after the supported us this far,” Joseph said. “It is truly an honor.” mass shooting at Michigan State University to the Shark Tank Pitch A new award category this year, the Emerging Entrepreneur Competition that awarded students with scholarships for creating spotlights companies that have not only proven themselves well-developed pitches on their own signature products, Goodfellas successful in recent years but also exhibit an abundance of growth has had the region’s back in both good times and bad. potential. An Emerging Entrepreneur has a natural inclination to As for the future of the business? think creatively and has a proactive and action-oriented approach. “Maybe some more expansion,” Joseph said. “We just want to While successful in the now, the Emerging Entrepreneur is usually continue to provide good service and food to our customers. And on the cusp of something even greater, making them one to watch. create awesome relationships along the way.”



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It’s been said that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. In Marcus Leslie’s case, it turns out you can’t build a successful business without breaking an oven. In 2019, while baking 100 cakes for a friend’s birthday — and breaking the family oven in the process — Leslie decided it was time to whisk up an independent entrepreneurial endeavor of his own. After launching his initiative at the Allen Neighborhood Center, Leslie won a $2,000 grant in 2020 from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s pitch competition and started his business journey. In addition to the storefront location at 1615 E. Kalamazoo St. in Lansing, today Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes are available in four Meijer small-format stores from Grand Rapids to southeast Michigan, six Meijer supercenters in the Lansing area, and several other small restaurants and shops in mid-Michigan. That fast-paced success is why Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes won the Passion to Prosperity Award in the Marcus Leslie 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. “When you think about food … it’s a common language we all have,” Leslie told 517 Magazine in 2022. Leslie began baking cheesecakes more than 20 years ago after “If there’s a disagreement you may be having, you can say, ‘Let’s eat attending a dinner party where the host served the dessert. Leslie and talk about it.’ I love that a bite of my cheesecake will shake a began experimenting with different flavors and fineries, and his memory you have 10, 15 years from now.” creative confections quicky became requested items from family and New to the awards ceremony this year, the Passion to Prosperity friends for parties and gatherings. Award is given to an entrepreneur who has taken something they Not long after beginning his retail operation, a chance meeting are truly passionate about and turned their passion into prosperity. in 2020 with the operators of the newly opened Meijer Capital City According to the award description: “For entrepreneurs who Market in downtown Lansing brought Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes into wholeheartedly invest their passion and dedication into their work, the wholesale realm. prosperity naturally follows. They could have started small in their The high popularity of the item led to a quick ascent for the own garage, with an Etsy shop or by selling their product at their business’s bottom line; however, despite its continued growth, neighborhood farmers market — then the bigger picture becomes Leslie has been able to maintain a closeness to the roots of where clear, expansion follows and their unwavering commitment paves the his journey began. Even with the rapid expansion across the state of way for success.” Mr. Leslie’s Cheesecakes, Leslie’s marketing approach also remains That definition fits Leslie to a T — or, perhaps more community focused as the brand continues to participate in local appropriately, to a teaspoon. farmers markets and regional events.







Forget about breaking the glass ceiling. Megan Dowell will happily skip that step and simply build her own damn ceiling of limitless height and potential. Since 2017, Dowell has been taking a sledgehammer to the archaic stereotype of the building trade being a man’s domain — and as the owner of Do-Well Remodel, 2100 Donora St. in Megan Dowell, owner Lansing, she’s helping to inspire other women to do exactly the same. In the years since, Dowell has worked tirelessly to earn Dowell became the youngest licensed female respect in the industry from peers as well as trust and confidence builder in the state of Michigan, and she parlayed her background from clients, an effort that has paid off in numerous recognitions in customer service to reinvigorate a sense of trustworthiness and and awards. That self-taught education and perseverance against reliability to the remodeling industry. perception are traits Dowell is now passing along to others, It’s why the panel of judges for the 2023 Greater Lansing particularly women and girls. Entrepreneurial Awards felt Dowell embodied the essence of this She has donated to the National Association of Career Women’s year’s Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. The award is given to an Harriett E. Pincumbe Scholarship, which helps women working individual who may not present like the typical entrepreneur, but on the academic portion of their career path. In addition, Dowell’s who still has operated their business with the spirit, risk-taking homeowners class, Knowing Your Home, is geared toward women to tenacity and outside-the-box thinking that is admired in traditional help them better understand home maintenance and avoid scams. To entrepreneurs. that end, she also collaborates with the state of Michigan on how to “This award encapsulates the hard work that we have been prevent contractor fraud and provides free resources to residential doing for almost 10 years now,” Dowell said. “It signifies and customers on hiring dependable builders in the area. recognizes that we are not only trying but also doing, and apparently Do-Well Remodel’s community outreach also extends beyond doing well. I am incredibly grateful to win this award and have my the scope of the business to work with local Girl Scout troops, the hard work acknowledged.” Holt High School wrestling team and the Okemos Home Depot. Six years ago, Dowell was struggling with her financial Dowell considers it part of being a wellspring of resource and situation. Her decade of customer service experience wasn’t winning support in the community that has supported her throughout the past her advancements in her career, and she was in danger of losing her years and the years to come. residence. Deciding to take her destiny into her own hands, Dowell “We are, ultimately, hoping to expand into a much larger teamed up with her husband, whose background was in construction business than our small, two-person company,” Dowell said. “We and remodeling, to make a pitch to Exit Realty to perform repairs on want to work and be more involved with the community providing the real estate company’s homes. low-cost repairs and helping our neighborhood homeowners.” That pitch was the founding of Do-Well Remodel.

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Scott Berman and his wife




For Scott Berman, the pillars of his business strategy all face one direction: north. The owner of One North Kitchen & Bar, 5001 W. Saginaw Highway in Lansing, rests his business on the foundational support of the four C’s: culinary, courtesy, cleanliness, and caring and engaged employees. Berman’s approach is two-pronged in that, by adhering to the four pillars, the hospitality industry is better equipped to serve the community. Conversely, putting an emphasis on staff members at every level builds a workforce who choose to be in the industry. That novel concept of focusing on people both in front of and behind the counter is one of the reasons Berman and One North earned the distinction of Socially Responsible Entrepreneur in the 2023 Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. “It provides us reassurance that people do notice and care when you prioritize community and people on your way to any level of sustainable success we might achieve,” Berman said of the award. In the award category, the judges look at not only the philanthropic activities of the companies nominated, but how the mission of a company could fulfill social duties — recognizing how important local

businesses are in making the world around us a better place. Improving the local community has been part of Berman’s mission long before One North in Lansing opened in 2020 and even before he opened a Culver’s franchise in 2013. He began crafting his four-pilar strategy while spending the first 40 years of his career in the food service distribution industry, and he brought that philosophy with him to the region through his work with such organizations as the American Cancer Society, Apex Academy, the Waverly Education Foundation and local Rotary clubs. It’s a concept that has paid off handsomely in respect and rewards. Both One North and Culver’s not only survived the COVID-19 pandemic but managed to thrive, with annualized growth rates at more than 10% — far outpacing the overall industry rates since 2019. And for Berman, there’s no need to start slowing down now. “We are actively working on expanding our businesses and brands in hopes that we can make an even bigger impact on the community and provide the hope and opportunity we promise to team members we serve today and those who are yet to join us,” Berman said.

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business / ON THE RECORD


It’s been a busy year for Pete Kramer since the company he founded and leads, Kramer Management Group, was named Business of the Year in the 2022 Entrepreneurial Awards. “Twelve months ago, Kramer Management Group had just completed several major capital projects around the state of Michigan and was in search of new clients and opportunities to continue our growth,” Kramer said. “Since then, we have been extremely fortunate in securing over $1 billion worth of new projects, some in untapped markets for us with different clients. We are so pleased with the opportunities our long-term clients have provided for us and thankful for our recently developed partnerships established in 2023.” Kramer Management Group helps clients achieve their greatest return on investment for their capital projects in the market sectors of higher education, health care, public/private partnerships, office/corporate and hospitality/gaming by serving as development representatives and program managers and bringing a high level of expertise to projects. There were hurdles along the way to a successful 2023. “Obviously one of the greatest challenges that the development and construction markets have faced these last few years is the rising cost of capital and the decreasing access to labor resources,” Kramer said. “Fortunately, we have focused our attention on large institutional clients with favorable capital resources, and their large projects continue to attract the interest of contracting resources that can satisfy those types of ventures. We continue to see growth in the marketplace and have focused our attention on those sectors.”



Through new partnerships, Kramer Management has been able to build a backlog of projects in excess of $1 billion to be constructed over the next four years. “We are seeing an unusual increase in ‘mega’ projects. In our arena, we consider developments in excess of $150 million to be in that realm,” Kramer said. “These types of ventures used to be fairly rare. However, we are seeing more and more programs of greater size and complexity. These projects require a high degree of expertise to manage, which provides a great opportunity for Kramer Management Group to showcase our incredibly capable team.” Kramer said the secret to the company’s triumphs is a basic one. “As with any business or market, the key to continued success is in the strong relationships you build with clients and partners in the industry,” he said. “As the construction market continues to evolve, those key partnerships in the industry become even more important to stay on the cutting edge of innovation and expertise.” He encourages his fellow mid-Michigan businesspeople to work together: “Keep collaborating with each other. Our collective success in the Greater Lansing region is contagious, and one team’s success helps us all succeed. We embrace an environment where we can all achieve a higher level on the shoulders of each other and hopefully can continue supporting the path forward together.”

















lifestyle PLACES p.40




PLAY p.54

THE BEATS GO ON Spinning success with Rod Carpenter Rod Carpenter is a self-described innovator and creator of unforgettable moments, and he’s earned the right to say so. The entrepreneur has owned HotBeats Entertainment for 13 years and owns HotAir Inflatables and El Corbatin Y Corbata, a tie boutique. Always dapper, Carpenter hustles to provide his services throughout the region. Bringing energy to keep people happy and entertained is his specialty, and you can always spot him on the dance floor when needed to get the crowd on its feet. So, what is Carpenter’s biggest song request? “I do so many different styles of weddings,” Carpenter said. “But my most popular request currently is ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars.” Carpenter seems unstoppable. 517 Magazine asked to what he attributes his entrepreneurial drive. “Recognizing that I have been blessed with a gift to entertain and create a loving environment for individuals celebrating love,” he said.

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lifestyle / PLACES

STORIES UNTOLD It’s easy to get swept up in the rushing onward current of life, thinking about where time’s waters are taking you next instead of taking inventory of your existing surroundings. You’ve likely passed the imposing structure silently standing on the mall concourse outside of the Michigan Hall of Justice in downtown Lansing without giving it a moment’s consideration. Yet it only takes a pause at the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Monument for the sobering reality of the 2,651 names of Michigan casualties from the conflict to sink in and slow life’s forward momentum for a few seconds of sacred thoughtfulness. The Vietnam War still means many things to many people today the same way it caused divisions and upended families five decades ago. My father served in the Vietnam War. He is the greatest storyteller I know; however, like many veterans, he rarely talked about his time in the military, let alone the years spent during wartime. On the occasion that he would tell a tale from





the past, I would sit with bated breath for each new detail. As a kid, they were just fantastic stories. As I got older, I realized the significance of them and who was telling them: A Black man growing up in Jim Crow America who was drafted into the U.S. Air Force due to a paperwork glitch while transferring universities. It demonstrated how much one person’s life changes in a butterfly moment. Suddenly my father became more than a great storyteller. He became someone who rose to the occasion of greatness. The next time you pass the Michigan Vietnam Veterans Monument listing its names in alphabetical order county by county, consider the stories that you don’t see in front of you. Think of those at home holding on to that one thing you can’t quite display. Hope.

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lifestyle / DESIGN AND DIY

A THRIFTER’S THANKSGIVING It was in the pages of another local publication two decades ago that I began writing about home improvements. Years later, I answered a call in our community for contractors and started a handy business, improving the Greater Lansing area one building at a time. During the pandemic, I discovered I was known for my design sense as much as my team’s technical skill, so I got certified and began offering full makeover services. It feels like I’ve come full circle, once again writing for a local magazine about how to beautify our spaces, and I am inspired to share how I create my signature “something found” style. As hearts and minds begin focusing on the holiday season, it seems fitting to start with how to create inviting seats at any table you’re setting in the coming weeks. I generally lead with gratitude in life, so it’s important to me, before ever buying decor, to forage my own garden for seasonal treasures. For this holiday table, I started with dried hydrangeas, seed pods and stems from my Blue False Indigo, and orange rose hips. Using an inexpensive cheesecloth runner, my collection of outdoor finds, mini pumpkins from a local farmer, some slices of tree limbs I picked up at ScrapFest and a few feathers found in




the neighborhood, I had the perfect backdrop for an elegant table setting that celebrates the beauty of nature. Because I reuse and repurpose, I added a few sparkly faux pomegranates I thrifted years back, old plates from the dollar store, last year’s post-holiday clearance napkins paired with dollar-store napkin rings, wine glasses I bought in the 1990s and some LED candles I’ve had for ages. The only new items for this project were a trendy set of faux bamboo silverware and the frayed burlap placemats. It fills my heart to arrange these seemingly random objects, none of them costing much, in such a purposeful way that is fresh and on-trend. The most significant investment for this rich display was tending to my own little section of the world. And, like any labor of love, the rewards are priceless. You can get more information about the process at stephanie-murray.com/stories or by following Stephanie Murray Makeovers on Facebook or Instagram. I can be reached at sm@stephanie-murray.com, where you are welcome to submit topics I might address in an upcoming issue or on my blog.

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Toni Thomas brings balance to others at Salt Yoga BY CHRISTOPHER NAGY

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Toni Thomas opened Salt Yoga in East Lansing in 2019.

he inner presence and knowledge discovered on her own past journey are assisting Toni Thomas to serve as a guide for others in the present. “Yoga is 100% a cup-filler for me. I do not currently benefit financially from owning a yoga studio. So, I really love to share this practice. I love how it makes other people feel. I love how it has the power to heal,” said Thomas, owner of Salt Yoga, 1306 E. Michigan Ave. in East Lansing. “For example, we have a 12step yoga class for 12-step recovery. That class has been amazing for people to work through all aspects of recovery. I have seen over the years how much yoga can heal, outside of just the physical body. Yoga is just not a part of me that I’m willing to let go right now, even if financially it’s not necessarily meeting our needs.” Thomas opened Salt Yoga is June 2019 several months before the birth of her third child and a few more months before the



I want people to know it’s not about the flexibility. It’s not about the strength. It’s not about knowing all the postures. It’s about being present, breathing and listening to yourself.

coronavirus pandemic. The studio offers a variety of specialized classes for beginners to advanced students, from slowflow and yin restorative yoga through the more physically demanding ashtanga vinyasa style; however, Salt Yoga specializes in classes combining yoga with halotherapy, a practice that incorporates salt into the air for respiratory and other benefits. “Halotherapy is not something I came up with, but it’s not very common in yoga as far as I know,” Thomas said. “When I opened a studio, I knew I wanted a studio based on my faith. From Scripture I took ‘salt of the earth,’ so salt kind of took on its own life once that was established as the faith piece. We’re a hot yoga studio. When it’s hot, you sweat, and your sweat has properties of salt. That was the physical aspect of it.

“We focus a lot on breath and its healing properties. Breath is one of the most important parts of practicing yoga to keep you present in the moment,” she added. “I started thinking about how we can bring salt into breath, and I started investigating halotherapy.” For Thomas, yoga was a discipline of personal development that she discovered while attaining her undergraduate degree in kinesiology and master’s degree in sport administration at Michigan State University and teaching fitness classes at the Michigan Athletic Club. “I was doing yoga there. It really started as a physical practice for me; I

FEATURE just liked how it felt,” she said. “I don’t know what made me decide to go to a studio outside of the gym, but I did. That definitely changed all of my views about yoga. I realized there’s just so much more than just the physical aspect of it — my spirit, my mental state, everything. I realized it’s a lifelong practice for your whole, not just your physical.” Instead of finding a home base, Thomas took her studies on the road as a traveling yogi studying at different locations with different instructors around the world. The decision to open her own studio

provided Thomas with a way to share her education with others and expose them to the full picture of what yoga can offer. “For most people who start teaching yoga or who get their certification, it’s often for their own personal development and their own personal deep journey,” Thomas said. “But sometimes in that process, when something’s really good, you can’t help but share it. In college and beyond, you feel like you can do anything. So, you’re just like, ‘Why not? I’ll try this. I’ll teach other people and show them what I’m learning.’ I just fell in love with it.”

That same passion can be discovered by anyone willing to seek it, Thomas said, because yoga is a practice of self-care and self-healing as much as it is about selfexploration and self-understanding. “The biggest myth or misconception about yoga that I get is that people are scared. It scares people. For whatever reason, yoga makes people nervous to try,” she said. “I want people to know it’s not about the flexibility. It’s not about the strength. It’s not about knowing all the postures. It’s about being present, breathing and listening to yourself.” To put it another way, yoga isn’t about doing the best but about doing the best for you. “I want people to walk away feeling empowered,” Thomas said. “I want people to know that they are in this class to start to listen within. I’ll make a number of suggestions, but they’re not requirements. If you or your body or your mind or your spirit is telling you to do something different, then I want people to see or to acknowledge that they are their own teachers and they have power and freedom. It’s important in this practice that people feel their power, and it’s a beautiful gift to be able to work with people every day.”

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lifestyle / GOOD READS


This is part 3 of a three-part series on the book “Aging Optimally” by local author Dr. Carol L. Monson. Emotional intelligence is a highly sought attribute for business leaders since it was introduced by Daniel Goleman in the 1990s. Five elements define EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. EI enables us to perceive, identify, express, understand and use our emotions to facilitate emotional and intellectual growth in ourselves and others. It is essential for healthy interactions in all settings and all relationships. Add to it the characteristics of empathy, optimism and self-control, and you will have better outcomes in your workplace, family and other life arenas. Researchers have shown that having a high emotional quotient is more important to achieving life success than having a high intelligence quotient. Corporate and entrepreneurial America wants their prospective leaders to prove their emotional intelligence by taking emotional quotient written tests before hiring them.

We develop a level of EI as we mature, what else can we do to improve it? Here are 10 tips for improving your emotional intelligence. •

Identify and evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses.

Strive to become the best you can be.

Be willing to embrace change.

Be curious about other people when you meet them; reach out and get to know them.

Become a better judge of character and learn who you can trust.

Learn how to neutralize toxic people around you.

Learn how and when to say “no.”

Trust your intuition and learn when to say “yes” to opportunity knocking.

Don’t dwell on your mistakes; we all make them.

Stay positive and stop yourself when you have negative thoughts.

Dr. Carol L. Monson is a family physician and psychotherapist. Her book is available on Amazon, and her website is agingoptimally.org.



offers an extensive range of tailored products and services to nurture your business’s growth. Our operating accounts allow you to manage your funds confidently while our credit cards offer both peace of mind and the essential working capital required to keep your business on the path to success.

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Accelerating Small-Business Success By Betsy Young, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

Small businesses are key to building strong, thriving communities. From creating new job opportunities and supporting economic growth to attracting new talent and keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well, when small businesses succeed, we all succeed. At MSUFCU, we recognize the importance of supporting small businesses, and we’re here to not only help you achieve success but also help you dream big.

Unlocking Business Success with MSUFCU In today’s competitive business environment, having a reliable and trusted financial partner can make all the difference. MSUFCU 517-333-2424

For budding entrepreneurs, we offer a StartUP loan to help you bring your business plan to life. For established businesses, our commercial real estate loans can help your business expand its footprint.

and invest in our community, making it a place where people take pride in living, working, and conducting business. At MSUFCU, we celebrate this year’s winners in the Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards and the exceptional work that all mid-Michigan small-business owners do each day. Let MSUFCU be your partner in business growth and success. For more information on how we can help turn your business’s dreams into reality, visit msufcu.org/business.

Partners in Community As a Credit Union, MSUFCU is deeply committed to creating better communities, just like small businesses do. Together, we aim to make a positive impact

BETSY YOUNG betsy.young@msufcu.org

Headquarters: 3777 West Road, East Lansing, MI 48823

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Lansing’s City Hall is moving to the Masonic Temple Building

“Congratulations - the sky is the limit for downtown Lansing!” -Ron Boji

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lifestyle / RECIPE


Cornbread casserole has secured its cherished place on Thanksgiving tables across the nation for lots of reasons. Beyond the taste, the dish carries a comforting nostalgia that resonates deeply with many of us. It’s a marriage of rich and crumbly texture with buttery corn goodness.


We guess you could say it satisfies both the palate and the soul.

• 1-2 large eggs, as binding ingredient

Here’s what you need to make your own for Thanksgiving:


ur cream eggs and so Bring your fore be re tu ra pe to room tem e. ol er the cass mixing into if a less it the sugar You can om ence. er ef pr is your sweet dish

• A 15-ounce can of creamed corn • A 15-ounce can of drained sweet corn • 1 cup of sour cream • 1/2 cup of unsalted, melted butter • 1 box of corn muffin mix • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

WHAT TO DO: Mix together the butter, sour cream and egg, then add sugar, corn and salt. Pour into a greased pan or casserole dish Bake at 350 degrees for 25-45 minutes, depending on the size of your dish.

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THE LURES AND LIES ABOUT SPORTS DRINKS Watching kids guzzle drinks promoted to enhance their physical abilities may look like a good choice, but is it? A 32 oz sports drink contains between 56 g and 76 g of sugar—about 14 to 19 teaspoons. That’s four to five times more sugar than your child should be consuming … for the entire day! That’s not just my opinion. I’m basing that on the World Health Organization (WHO) sugar consumption guidelines: 5% of a person’s total energy intake. That average calculates to four teaspoons (16 g) per day for 4-8 year-olds and jumps to five teaspoons for 9-13 year-olds. Not coincidentally, the American Heart Association (AHA) echoed the recommendations. Scarily, to heed these guidelines, the US needs to reduce sugar consumption by a killer 75%! If these sugar guidelines sound strict, I assure you they’re not. Remember that half our US kids are obese or overweight, predictive of adult obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. If we were as worried about this health threat as we were about COVID, we’d have banned sugary beverages altogether! Do you ever wonder how sports drinks got the reputation as performance-enhancing health drinks? The same Gatorade that sits in the sideline coolers today is now fifty-eight years old. But is it the same? Not even close. I’ll never forget my first taste of Gatorade as a little kid. I had to spit it out! It tasted nasty—like a salty chemical spill. The original drink was developed by Drs. Robert Cade and Dana Shires in response to the exhaustion and dehydration that the Florida Gators footballers suffered—reportedly, some would lose up to fifteen pounds during a hot, sunny afternoon. Dr. Cade, a kidney specialist, sought a way to boost their electrolyte-rich plasma during play. The electrolytes Cade added were sodium citrate and monopotassium. But the original amount of lemon-lime flavoring and glucose were not enough to overpower the awful taste of this stuff, and I wasn’t the only one to spit it out. Players complained it tasted like a cross between urine and the toilet bowl cleaner itself. They had to add an artificial sweetener, much sweeter than sugar, just to get them to drink it.

When Gatorade was sold to Quaker Oats in 1983, Fruit Punch Gatorade made its debut. Now it’s owned by PepsiCo, and, no joke, it’s their fourth largest brand. They dumped in a bunch more sugar and/ or artificial sweeteners (i.e., Gatorade Zero); both choices stimulate insulin resistance. Reformulating Gatorade as a health threat was clearly not what Cade set out to do at all, especially given that most kids are not endurance athletes. As you know, Gatorade comes in all kinds of iridescent colors and a variety of sizes. It competes with Coca-Cola’s Powerade and Vitaminwater brands, as well as several others that vie for a higher position in the still-soaring sports drink market. Vitaminwater has the unearned perception of a healthier choice. Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign assigned descriptors like focus, endurance, refresh, and essential. It’s true, it contains vitamins, just as all our candied-up breakfast cereals do. But it has virtually the same whopping dose of sugar (32g per 20 oz) as Gatorade and Powerade (35 g). Even for your teen athletes, a single bottle of Vitaminwater is more than 100% of the sugar intake they can healthily consume—again, for the entire day! I implore you to join efforts with the WHO, that has a particular focus on upending unhealthy weight gain and dental caries. And, with the AHA in its determination to reduce the threat of heart disease and metabolic inflexibility. Today you may seem like a mean parent (aka Brave Parent), but your children will, in the blink of an eye, be adults— and they will thank you for the rest of their tomorrows!

Dr. Susan Maples is a dentist in Holt. She is also a speaker, health educator, and author of “BlabberMouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life” and “Brave Parent: Raising Healthy, Happy Kids (Against All Odds) in Today’s World.” Reach her at Susan@DrSusanMaples.com

Total-Health-Dentistry.com 517-694-0353

lifestyle / PLAY

t ent a cont more G.COM A 517M

A Merry Downtown Lansing Tradition SILVER BELLS IN THE CITY Nov. 17 The Lansing tradition continues this year with Silver Bells in the City. Happening rain or shine, this parade through the heart of Lansing features marching bands from around the area and kicks off the holiday season with the arrival of Santa Claus. Be sure to get there early to get a good seat and enjoy the festivities of the season. For more information, visit silverbellsinthecity.com/#celebrate.

THIS MONTH’S EVENTS Editor’s note: Please call event venues directly to make sure times and dates haven’t changed.

Holiday Art Exhibition | Nov. 9 The opening night of the Lansing Art Gallery’s Holiday Art Exhibition starts at 5 p.m., bringing shopping and winter festivities, including Michigan-made gifts, refreshments, art kits, free gift wrapping and more. For details, visit lansingartgallery.org. CORE Grand Opening | Nov. 10 Join the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University for the grand opening of The CORE. Celebrate the completion of the collection’s new home in the Center for Object Research and Engagement. For details, visit facebook.com/events/990414015745507/. CBI Holiday Craft Fair | Nov. 11 Join the CBI Holiday Craft Fair at Mason High School. This is a program to help raise funds for the community-based instruction program for the school. The program involves students with disabilities learning valuable job skills by working at different businesses in the local community, practicing life skills and learning academics. Visit business.masonchamber.org/events/details/cbiholiday-craft-fair-4640.

Follow our friends at 517living.com for other upcoming events in the region.



Potter Park Zoo Wonderland of Lights | Nov. 18 - Dec. 23 Come and be amazed by the 31st annual Wonderland of Lights. Walk around the zoo Thursday through Sunday evenings and enjoy the magical season with your favorite animals. Be sure to grab a goodie bag for the kids before you leave. Visit potterparkzoo.org/event/wonderlandof-lights-3/.

‘Harry Potter’ with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra | Nov. 17-18 Grab your friends and listen to John Williams’ enchanting live orchestral score from the first of the “Harry Potter” movies. Visit whartoncenter. com for tickets and information about the shows. Autumn Pie Baking | Nov. 18 Want to impress people with your pie skills this season? Take the first step on your bakery journey at Le Chat Gourmet Culinary Arts, learning different pastry crusts including flaky, savory and sweet shortcrust; as well as skills like rolling, docking, crimping, lattice work and blind baking. Recipes will include a lemon meringue tart, sweet shortcrust pastry, an apple lattice pie and more. The class is $135 per person, register at lechatgourmet.com. Mason Holiday Lighted Parade | Nov. 22 Join the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce for the 22nd annual Mason Holiday Lighted Parade. The event will lead up to the Mason tree-lighting ceremony by the Citizen of the Year. For more information, visit business. masonchamber.org/events/details/22ndmason-holiday-lighted-parade-20234636?calendarMonth=2023-11-01. ‘Hairspray’ | Nov. 28 to Dec. 3 The award-winning Broadway musical comes back to Lansing, introducing a new generation to a comedy phenomenon. Join 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad in 1960s Baltimore as she sets out to dance her way onto TV’s most popular show. Visit whartoncenter.com for tickets and information about the shows.

WRAP UP SHAKE A TAILFEATHER Five workplace victory dances to celebrate an award BY CHRISTOPHER NAGY

Professional football players have the market cornered on victory celebrations. They’ve turned elaborate endzone dances into such a cottage industry that you’d think the majority of the preseason schedule is dedicated to studying Bob Fosse choreography film. Yet you, too, can make your own mark of distinction with these five victory dances to celebrate a workplace award or achievement … if you dare.

The Dab

The Cabbage Patch

The Sprinkler

The Worm

The Perp Walk

Like having to see your neighbor’s Christmas decorations on the lawn in mid-July, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We may be on the cusp of that point when it comes to Dabbing. The dance move itself is easy and, at one point, seemed fresh and funny, but it might be a bit played out. As with any dance being performed in a workplace, if your 47-year-old co-worker is doing it unironically, it’s likely that the move has been past its prime by a good 36 months. Please stop, Darcy.

The 1980s are memorable for many things: bad hair, bad fashion, bad music, bad TV and a ubiquitous dance that even your Great-Aunt Hildy could do known as The Cabbage Patch. Now that the Aqua Net hole in the ozone is nearly fixed and everything horribly ’80s is kitschy again, The Cabbage Patch is back to make everyone who lived through the decade say, “Wake me up before you … oh no!” Yet, if you think you can pull it off, go for it. No, stand down, Darcy.

Ah, yes … The Sprinkler — the only known dance associated with those two hippest of subjects that all the kids are raving about: lawn maintenance and garden irrigation. If you see a colleague doing The Sprinkler, it’s likely he is envisioning himself having the collar on his polo shirt popped while drinking Zima at the club. For workplaces located in arid climates, there may be restrictions on doing The Sprinkler to off-peak hours or every other day.

This one is so rare that it is considered the Holy Grail of office dance moves. A sighting of The Worm in an office setting — outside of a work-centered party where copious amounts of libations are available at an open bar (because no one is going to remember it anyway) — is like finding a unicorn in the wild. Anyone who performs this in the office becomes an instant legend. Do it on top of the conference table in the middle of a meeting, and you become a god.

The best part about this dance move is that it requires little effort from you. You just have to place your arms behind your back for easy placement of the handcuffs, then let security escort you out of the building for performing any of the previous dance moves in the office. Bonus if any co-worker rings a bell while announcing, “Shame!” as you make your forced exit. Best of luck to you in your next endeavor, Darcy!

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